For this team, autonomic control of circulation is the key interest. Blood pressure control is profoundly affected by spaceflight. Results from SLS-1 and SLS-2 show that approximately 60% of crewmembers cannot stand quietly for 10 minutes shortly after flight, often due to problems with low blood pressure. What has happened to control of the circulation in space that has led to these changes?
The Autonomic Nervous System Team (composed of investigators Drs. Friedhelm Baisch, Gunnar Blomqvist, Dwain Eckberg, and David Robertson) has proposed a comprehensive set of autonomic tests to look at every aspect of autonomic circulatory control. One of the procedures planned for Neurolab, microneurography, has generated considerable interest. With microneurography, a very fine tungsten needle is inserted into the crewmember's peroneal nerve near the knee. When the nerve tip is in a motor fascicle, sympathetic nerve traffic to blood vessels in muscle can be recorded. The payload specialist candidates for Neurolab spent two months at Vanderbilt University learning this procedure.